Marc Andreessen on the Need for Growth to Prevent Zero Sum Thinking

Many skeptics thought the internet would never reach mass adoption, but today it’s shaping global culture, is integral to our lives–and this is just the beginning. In this conversation, Kevin Kelly (Founding Executive Editor, WIRED magazine) and Marc Andreessen (Cofounder and General Partner, Andreessen Horowitz) sit down to discuss the evolution of technology, the new “Space Race,” and how measuring prosperity on a global scale is the key to our collective success. Learn why they share an optimistic view on the possibilities of the future.

HIGHLIGHTS
Discussion on closing the digital divide [3:00]
The many possibilities of voice technology as an interface [9:59]
Moore’s Law vs. Eroom’s law [14:14]
Looking at 5G Technology as the next global driver [20:38]
New models for VC and company models [27:05]
How long-term thinking can be applied in Silicon Valley [29:53]
Measuring prosperity on a global scale [34:00]
The potential impact of cyber technology on global conflict [38:45]
The foundation of Marc’s optimism [41:05]
M

34:11
introspection about government but also
34:12
about capitalism and capitalism so far
34:17
has depended on growth and growth is
34:19
something that VC’s pay attention to but
34:24
we’re now wondering if what’s the
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minimum amount of growth that you might
34:28
need to have prosperity can you have
34:30
prosperity with low growth can you have
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prosperity with fixed growth do you have
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any insights about about that at the
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civilizational scale yes I think in
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actually I don’t even say that the issue
34:42
is even more intense these days because
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there’s now very prominent people in
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public life arguing that growth is bad
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right and in fact it’s it that it that
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it in fact is ruinous and destructive
34:50
and that the right goal might actually
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be they have no growth or to actually go
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into negative growth then especially in
34:54
a very common view in the environmental
34:56
movement so I’m a very strong proponent
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a very strong believer that growth is
35:00
absolutely necessary and I’ll come back
35:02
to environmental thing in a second
35:03
because it’s a very interesting case of
35:04
this
I think growth is absolutely necessary
and I think the reason growth is
absolutely necessary is because you can
fundamentally have two different mindset
views of how the world works
right one
is positive some which is you know
rising tide lifts all boats we can all
do better together and the other is is
is a zero-sum right where for me to win
somebody else must lose
and vice-versa
and reason I think economic growth is so
important at cores because if there is
fast economic growth then we have
positive some politics and we start to
have all these discussions about all
these things that we can do as a society
and if we have zero some grow if we have
if we have a flat growth or no growth or
negative growth all of a sudden the
politics become sharply zero-sum and in
the most in the most the most you just
kind of see this if you kind of track
you know kind of the political climate
you just basically it’s the wake of
every recession right it’s just in the
wake of every economic recession the
politics just go like seriously negative
on in terms of thinking about the
world’s is zero-sum
and and then when
you get a zero-sum outlook Impala
six that’s when you get like
anti-immigration that’s when you get
anti trade
that’s when you get anti tech
if the world’s not growing then all
that’s left to do is to fight over what
we what we already have and so my view
is like you need to have economic growth
you need to have economic growth for all
of the reasons that I would say right
wingers like economic growth which is
you want to have higher levels material
prosperity more opportunity more job
creation all those things you want to
have economic growth for the purpose of
having like sane politics like a
productive political conversation and
then I think the kicker is you also want
economic growth actually for many of the
things that left-wing people want one of
the best books this year new books this
year is a guy Andrew McAfee I was
reading a book called
I think more from less it’s actually a
story of a really remarkable thing that
a lot of people are missing about what’s
happening with the environment which is
globally carbon emissions are rising and
resource utilization is rising in the
u.s. carbon emissions and resource
utilization are actually falling and so
in the u.s. we have figured out to grow
our economy while reducing our use of
natural resources which is a completely
unexpected twist right to the plot of
what kind of if you lose
environmentalists in six years of
seventies like nobody predicted that and
it turns out he talks about this in the
book but it turns out basically what
happens is economies when economies
advanced to a certain point they get
really really good at doing more with
less right they get really really good
efficiency and they get really good at
energy efficiency they get really isn’t
about you use environmental resources
they really go to recycling in lots of
different ways and then they get really
good at what’s called dematerialization
which is what is happening with digital
technology right which is basically
taking things that used to require atoms
and turning them into bits weight which
inherently consumes consumes less
resources and so what you actually want
like my view unlike the environmental
issues is like you’ve got a global
problem which is you have too many
people in too many countries stuck in
kind of mid amid the Industrial
Revolution they’ve got to grow to get to
the point where they’re in a fully
digital economy like we are precisely so
that they can start to have declining
resource utilization right right I mean
the classic example energy like you know
the big problem of the energy emissions
global a huge problem of emissions and
with health from emissions is literally
38:05
people burning wood like in their houses
38:07
right to be able to eat and cook and
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what you want to do is you want to go to
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like hyper efficient solar or ideally
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nuclear right you want to go to these
38:13
like super advanced forms of technology
38:14
so actually it so you want
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that and by the way if you want like a
38:18
big social safety net you know and all
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the social programs you want to pay for
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that stuff
38:22
you also want economic growth because
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that generates taxes of pace of that
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stuff and so like growth is the single
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kind of biggest form of magic that we
38:28
have right to be able to like actually
38:30
make progress and hold the whole thing
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together and you know to your point
38:33
about the developing countries I think
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the idea of leapfrog and technology is a
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myth it doesn’t really work you actually
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have to if you want to have a high-tech
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infrastructure you actually need the
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intermediate roads clean water you can’t
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skip over that and so they all need to
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be built out in order to have that
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prosperity at the end so you know the
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simplest you know seems like you don’t
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worry about much I don’t worry about
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much but one thing I do worry about this
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cyber conflict cyber war partly because
39:01
I think we have no consensus about
39:03
what’s allowable does this worry you at
39:06
all so I think there there’s a lot of
39:08
unknown as to it I think people are
39:09
trying to figure this out but it’s it’s
39:11
a complication to grapple with I will
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make an optimistic argument which is
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going to sound a little strange if you
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kind of project forward what’s happening
39:21
with with generally cyber with
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information you know operations of
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different kinds but also with drones
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you know UAVs and then also with you
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know unmanned you know unmanned fighter
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jets right um and you know ships
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increasingly being built
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it’ll be unmad submarines at some point
39:39
if you projected stuff forward you start
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to get this very interesting potential
39:43
world in which basically the way I think
39:46
about it it’s like all human conflict
39:47
between peoples are between
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nation-states up until now has been
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basically throwing people at each other
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right throwing soldiers at each other
39:54
and like letting them make the decision
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of who to shoot and like hoping they
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don’t get shot like with very serious
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repercussions of all those individual
40:00
human decisions you do have the prospect
40:02
of basically a new world of both offense
40:04
and defense it’s like completely
40:05
motorised completely mechanized
40:06
completely software driven and
40:08
technology driven and a lot of people
40:09
it’s just immediately like oh my god
40:10
that’s horrible
40:11
you know Terminator like you know Skynet
40:13
like you know this is just the worst
40:14
thing ever there’s a novel called kill
40:16
decision if you wanted to snow Pinsky
40:18
okay there’s a novel called kill
40:19
decision by daniel suarez dinosaurus
40:21
then extrapolates the the drones forward
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and a little it’ll keep you up late at
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night but the optimistic view would be
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like boy isn’t it good that there aren’t
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beings involved isn’t it good like if
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the machines are shooting at each other
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like isn’t that good isn’t that better
40:34
than if they’re shooting at us by the
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way and by the way yeah I would go so
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far as to say like I don’t know that I’m
40:39
in favor of like the machines making
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like kill decisions like decisions on me
40:43
to shoot but like the one thing I know
40:44
it’s humans do that very badly like very
40:46
very very badly I’m the opposite of
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pearl war I don’t want to see any of
40:49
this stuff actually play out but if it
40:50
has to play out there maybe having it be
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software machines it’s gonna be actually
40:53
better outcome right I mean this kind of
40:55
weird that we don’t allow we don’t want
40:58
machines to kill humans we want other
41:00
humans to kill you but we want 18 year
41:01
olds we want to take 18 year olds out of
41:04
their homes right we want to put a gun
41:05
in their hand and send them someplace
41:06
and tell me decide who to shoot like it
41:08
that that is gonna go down to history’s
41:10
haven’t been a good idea okay it just
41:12
strikes me as like unlikely so we have
41:14
only time for one last question which is
41:16
I’m usually I claim to be the most
41:18
optimistic person in the room but with
41:20
you sitting across to me I don’t think
41:22
that may be true what is your optimism
41:26
based on so my optimism okay so get
41:30
cosmic for a second why not I guess
41:32
we’re here it’s the last question last
41:33
question so the science fiction author
41:36
science fiction science fiction authors
41:37
always talking about was good they
41:39
called the singularity this constant
41:40
singularity answer it’s a singularities
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basic what happens when the machines get
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so smart than all of a sudden everything
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goes into exponential mode and all of a
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sudden you know the entire world changes
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so I am I reading history is actually we
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actually were in the singularity already
41:53
and that it actually started 300 years
41:56
ago mm-hmm and if you look at basically
42:00
if you look at basically any chart of
42:01
human welfare over time and you can look
42:03
at no child mortality is an obvious one
42:05
but like there’s you know there’s many
42:06
many many others and you just look at
42:08
progress on that metric so your telomere
42:09
tality as an example and it’s just
42:11
basically flat flat flat flat flat flat
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flat for only fifty thousand years right
42:14
is everything and you know if this is
42:15
the family offices at Thomas Hobbes you
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know life is you know nasty brutish and
42:19
short right it was just like the thing
42:20
like everything was terrible everywhere
42:22
all the time forever the end until 300
42:26
years ago when all of a sudden there’s
42:27
this me and the curve and then all the
42:29
indicators of human welfare not
42:31
uniformly across the planet but in
42:33
societies that we’re making progress the
42:37
societies weren’t making progress first
42:38
all of a sudden all those indicators of
42:39
human welfare went up into the right
42:40
right I don’t know of course bonded by
42:42
the way to economic growth but it was
42:44
also right it was the Enlightenment it
42:45
was the rise of democracy it was the
42:47
rise of markets was the rise of
42:48
rationality of the scientific method by
42:51
the way human rights free speech free
42:53
thought right and they all kind of
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catalyzed right around around around 300
42:57
years ago and and they’ve been making
42:58
their way into the world you know in
42:59
sort of increasing concentric circles
43:01
kind of ever since and so we have you
43:04
know I would argue like we have the
43:05
answer it’s like we actually don’t need
43:07
new we don’t need new discoveries to
43:08
have the future be much better we
43:10
actually know how to do it is to apply
43:11
basically those systems and and and
43:15
basically contra the sort of constant
43:17
temptation from all kinds of people to
43:19
try to you know compromise on these
43:20
things or subvert these things you know
43:22
basically double down on these systems
43:23
that we know work right so double down
43:25
economic growth double down on human
43:26
rights double down on markets on
43:29
capitalism double down on the scientific
43:31
method fix science like we got as far as
43:34
we did with science actually being
43:35
pretty seriously screwed up right now
43:37
with the replication crisis like so we
43:39
should fix that and then science will
43:41
all of a sudden start to work much
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better technology right used to yeah use
43:45
of technological tools so we should we
43:48
literally have the systems like we know
43:49
how to do this we know how to make the
43:50
planet much better in every respect and
43:52
so what we just need to do is is keep
43:53
doing that and then what I try to do
43:55
when I read the news is notwithstanding
43:58
everything’s going on is basically try
44:00
to look through whatever’s happen at the
44:01
moment try to look underneath and kind
44:02
of say okay are those fundamental
44:04
systems actually still working like is
44:07
the world getting more democratic or
44:08
less right this is free speech spreading
44:10
or receiving right or markets expanding
44:12
or falling right are more more people
44:14
able to participate in a modern market
44:15
economy or not and you know those
44:17
indicators generally are all or all
44:18
still up into the right mm-hmm
44:20
so let’s go out and make the world
44:22
better yeah thank you
44:23
thanks everybody
44:25
[Applause]

Universal Basic Income–For or Against? A Debate

Universal Basic Income–For or Against? A Debate: Karl Widerquist (Georgetown University-Qatar) and Oren Cass (Manhattan Institute) Wed., Oct. 30, 4:30 pm in Filene Auditorium

Wednesday, October 30, 2019
4:30am – 6:00pm
Filene Auditorium, Moore Building
Sponsored by: Political Economy Project

The idea of a government-guaranteed income for everyone has made a meteoric rise to prominence in just the last few years, in the United States and around the world. Karl Widerquist (Georgetown University-Qatar) and Oren Cass (Manhattan Institute) will debate the merits of this, one of the hottest policy proposals of our time.

 

ABOUT THE NBN BECOME AN NBN HOST LAUNCH AN NBN PODCAST PITCH US YOUR NEW BOOK! PARTNER WITH THE NBN Arts & Letters Peoples & Places Politics & Society Religion & Faith Science & Tech Books Received DONALD BERRY Glory in Romans and the Unified Purpose of God in Redemptive History

In this program, we discuss Glory in Romans and the Unified Purpose of God in Redemptive History (Pickwick Publications, 2016), a revision of Donald Berry’s doctoral dissertation. With this publication, Berry fills in a gap in Pauline studies, setting forth the glory of God as central to Paul’s theology. Not only does his book cover a significant motif in the New Testament, but it also provides crucial insights into the Epistle to the Romans and to the field of biblical theology. Donald Berry is a pastor at Christian Fellowship in Columbia, Missouri. He holds a Ph.D. in New Testament from Amridge University in Montgomery, AL, and an M.Div. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.